Ten years ago, New York and the baseball world witnessed the pinnacle of success for the New York Yankees. The Bombers, led by no one in particular, went 114-48 during the regular season and 11-2 in October to bring home a World Series Championship in resounding fashion.
That season, Scott Brosius issued one of my all-time favorite baseball quotes. “The core of the team is the team,” he said in a July 5, 1998 article in The Times. The Yanks would go on to win the World Series in 1999 and 2000, but they never did recapture the magic of that record-setting 1998 season. With El Duque and Shane Spencer arriving in the Bronx and a David Wells perfect game in May, it was truly a season for the ages.
When the clock struck midnight a few nights ago, 2008 arrived. Ten years later, the Yanks, despite all of their wins, haven’t had as much success in the first decade of the 2000s as they did in the last decade of the 1990s. From 2001 through 2007, the Yanks are unmatched in the regular season. They are 686-445 with a decade winning percentage of .606, but when the calendar flips to the postseason, everything looks different.
2001: A heartbreaking seven-game loss to the Diamondbacks in the World Series.
2002: A four-game loss to the Angels in the ALDS.
2003: A six-game loss to the Marlins in the World Series.
2004: This did not happen. Really.
2005: A five-game loss at the hands of
Bubba Crosby and Gary Sheffield the Angels.
2006: A pathetic four-game loss at the hands of the Tigers.
2007: Yet another four-game loss at the hands of
Joe Torre’s inability to get the team off the field when attacked by a Biblical plague of bugs the Indians.
Considering that Yankee fans measure their team’s success in postseason wins and World Series titles, the 686 regular season wins matter far less than their 32 postseason losses since the start of the 21st Century.
But with 2008 upon us, it’s hard not to think about a new era dawning in Yankee history. We have a new stadium on the horizon and a whole slew of young, good players on the rise. We saw teh potential of Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy last season, and we know the Yanks have a very loaded farm system to go with their offensive powerhouse in the Bronx.
It may not be this year; the first full season with three young kids playing vital parts can be touch and go. But you can bet that when the new stadium opens and another new year dawns, the Yanks will be right there where they’ve always been: Playing to win in October and with a very good shot at yet another title. Hope springs eternal in January right now.